Three favourable decisions from Scottish Information Commissioner in 2017

In September 2017, acting for S&TCS, Guy Linley-Adams secured another decision from the Scottish Information Commissioner  that Scottish Ministers unlawfully tried to withhold information naming fish farms that had breached Scottish Government trigger levels for the numbers of adult female sea lice on farmed salmon. 

 In 2016 and 2016, Guy made a number of requests for information for details of those farms that had notified Marine Scotland that the new Scottish trigger levels, announced to the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization in 2016, had been exceeded, but Scottish Ministers had declined to provide the information, on the basis that to do so would cause “substantial prejudice” to the interests of the fish farmers which had provided the information.   Scottish Ministers argued that the salmon farmers feared that information on the performance of individual fish farm sites could be used to undermine commercial contracts through undue media pressure, or to call for local authorities and other regulators to revoke consent for sites reporting higher sea lice levels. Scottish Ministers supported the industry in those fears.

 After two separate and detailed referrals, the Scottish Information Commissioner ruled that arguments put forward for full disclosure of the names of the liciest fish farms in Scotland, were correct, and that the Scottish Ministers had unlawfully tried to prevent public scrutiny.

 This decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner is one of a string of Decisions obtained by Guy Linley-Adams, acting for the Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland against Marine Scotland this year alone, calling into question more generally Scottish Ministers’ attitude to the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 – see also:

Decision 038/2017:  Salmon & Trout Conservation Scotland and the Scottish Ministers  – Whether a request was complied with as soon as possible Decision Date: 17 March 2017

 Decision 063/2017:  Salmon and Trout Conservation Scotland and Scottish Ministers – Control of sea lice on fish farms: failure to respond within statutory timescales Decision Date: 02 May 2017